Grand friends’ birthday bash

The Grand Theatre
The Grand Theatre
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IT is unthinkable now, but Blackpool came within a whisker of losing its magnificent Grand Theatre.

The place was shut for the majority of the 70s and but for thousands of locals coming together and fighting to keep it open, it would have been bulldozed.

Those locals formed a group called Friends of the Grand and successfully saved the building, raised funds to buy it, refurbished it and finally reopened the doors in 1981.

Many of those in the group are still active supporters of the Grand all these years later - and it’s why a rather special bash is being held tomorrow.

The 40th anniversary celebrations of the formation of Friends of the Grand take place at the Imperial Hotel. It starts at noon and lasts till four, with guests treated to sparkling wine reception followed by a hot buffet lunch.

John Grady, who helped save the theatre and still sells programmes and helps out at the venue now, has helped organise the anniversary celebration.

“We held a dinner on the 25th anniversary but we’ve had nothing since then so I thought it would be good to celebrate the 40th anniversary,” said Mr Grady.

“The event is being hosted by Barry McQueen, the Blackpool Town Crier, and several surprise guests who have appeared at the Grand Theatre over the years are expected to attend.

“There will be photos from some previous Friends events along with other memorabilia, and there will be entertainment. Hopefully it should be a really good afternoon.”

Johnny Casson will be there, along with John Shedwick, former theatre manager at the Grand and now chairman of Lancashire County Council.

Tickets for tomorrow’s event are £22.50 and are available from the box office at the Grand on 01253 290190.